October 24, 1999

Georgia Study-Abroad business students meet Coca-Cola's CFO inGermany

Former Valdostan Connie D. McDaniel, chief financial officer for Coca-Cola in Germany, recently addressed Valdosta State University students in Essen, Germany, during one of the class's field trips from their base of study in Paris, France.

This summer, business students (among others in the European Council of the University System of Georgia's Study Abroad Programs), completed five weeks of coursework centered in Paris as well as in London. The French-based International Management course was taught by Dr. Fred A. Ware, Jr., a professor of management at VSU. Another VSU faculty member, Dr. Melanie S. Byrd, associate professor of history, had also been chosen by the Regents' European Council to teach liberal arts courses in France.

From Paris, Ware took his class by train to Essen, a city in a highly industrial region of Germany, for a tour of the Thyssen Steel company and a briefing by Coca-Cola executive Connie McDaniel.

"Connie grew up in Valdosta," Ware said. "She graduated with honors from Valdosta High School in 1976, attended VSU for two years, and graduated summa cum laude from Georgia State University with a bachelor's of business administration, majoring in accounting."

Ware said McDaniel has worked for the Coca-Cola Co. for 10 years, the last two in Germany where her husband, Ken McDaniel, also works. Her mother, Janet Dickman, recently retired as secretary to the vice president of Student Affairs at VSU.

McDaniel explained to the students that the German market is a key one for Coca-Cola's international business.

"She pointed out that Germany is fifth in the Coca-Cola system worldwide, and first in Europe," Ware said. "The Coca-Cola product alone is bigger here than the total volume in any other European country. Also, we learned that Fanta was created in Germany in 1940 and today is one of the company's biggest international brands."

According to Ware, earlier this year in Belgium, Coca-Cola experienced the biggest recall campaign in its history. Shortly thereafter, competition officials from the European Commission visited Coca-Cola offices in several countries to gather material related to competitive practices.

"In spite of what had to be a very busy time, Connie stopped and calmly met with us and answer questions about the company's responses and overall business policies," Ware said. "We were impressed with her personal understanding of international business and Coca-Cola's positive handling of everything. The irony is that Connie told me back last spring that there wasn't a lot to show the students in Essen since this is a business office, not a bottling facility. Little did we know that we would have the opportunity of discussing current multinational business issues on a first name basis."

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